Getting good quality content produced and published on time is hard. This is true if you’re an agency working with clients or an in-house team working on your own website. Content production planning is the key to success, this helps you establish a fluid workflow around the creation and management of your project content.
Without planning for content delivery, teams are likely to experience delays, over spends, headaches and an increasingly demotivated project team. Here are some common content pains for website projects and strategies and considerations to avoid them.
Assembling a content delivery team is necessary to get content done. You need people at each stage with the right expertise and skills to take content from ideation to published (and beyond, to governance).
If people are tasked with things outside of their role or remit, chances are they won’t consider it a priority or they may not be able to complete what’s needed. Investing in the right people may seem like an additional overhead, but it can save time, money and stress further down the line.
The specific people needed will vary from project to project but may include:
For some projects, scaling your team up may be necessary to bring in particular skills and expertise, a third party copywriter for example.
Before you start any content production, think about who you will need and how they fit into the overall workflow.
A workflow is all of the tasks needed to get your content done. A typical content production workflow is:
The workflow may change between projects with more stages added or some removed but the important thing is considering what process your content needs to go through. There may be additional stages such as legal review, translation etc. It is also necessary to consider who in your content delivery team will be responsible for each stage of the workflow.
When assigning people to stages, don’t just tell them they are responsible for ‘reviewing content.’ Make it clear exactly what is required of them. Are they to review spelling and grammar, accuracy, voice and tone and so forth.
When disseminating the workflow to your team, let them know where they fit in the overall process. A workflow is a good way to identify bottlenecks. This isn’t about blame, but rather a way to spot issues early on and be able to overcome them to keep content moving towards being approved and published.
Without the right tools or a well defined process in place, content production and delivery can get very messy very quickly. It’s all too common for content to be lost in inboxes, lots of different Word documents, spreadsheets and folders. This means there is no clarity on where content is at, what’s been done and what’s left.
The first thing to define is your process. With your workflow defined and your content team allocated to the appropriate stages, you have a sense of the journey or process your content will go through and who needs to do what to keep it moving.
This is a great place to decide on what tools you’ll use to help them. Think beyond the actual writing of content too. Also think of tools in relation to:
Whatever tools you decide are the right fit for your project, consider any resource needed to get the team up and running with tools and any subscription/account costs for those tools too. Nobody likes to be caught out with unexpected costs once the project has kicked-off.
Did I mention that content is hard? It’s harder still when there are lots of stakeholders involved with differing agendas and opinions. That’s not to say any are invalid, but it’s challenging to please everyone and get all content planned, produced and published in time for launch.
If something has to give, don’t just randomly decide what to include or not. There are a couple of options to make informed decisions around what content to deliver and when.
You may be able to publish the content in phases, starting on launch day with all the essential information and then rolling out additional content in the following days, weeks and months.
Prioritising content requirements is tricky as it often means saying no, or rather, yes, but not right now. Once you have gathered all of the content requirements, you can prioritise these in a workshop setting with stakeholders, by numerically ordering them, or by using a method such as MoSCoW:
We Won’t … produce this piece of content for the site launch.
This can result in some tricky conversations but it really helps to bring everyone together around a shared understanding and priority.
Content must meet a business goal and/or a user need. If it doesn’t, what is its purpose? Poor quality refers to content that isn’t purposeful, useful or useable. And also to content that is badly written, not in line with your brand personality and content style guide.
If content isn’t given the consideration it needs it can often be pushed down the to-do list, shoehorned into existing processes, tacked onto someone’s job role and responsibilities or simply left undone. All of this results in content being rushed and seen as a distraction which will result in poor quality content being published and the overall user experience suffering. Or it will never get done and projects are delayed. Or, it is considered too late when budgets won’t stretch and resource isn’t available.
Assembling a content team, defining a workflow and choosing the right tools for the job will help you publish the right content on time.
In our free online content strategy masterclass we will delve deeper into the issues above (and many more) and offer practical advice, techniques and solutions to help you take your website projects content-first and learn how to design a content production process to deliver content on time.
Our experienced content strategist and facilitator will coach you on:
Join us on Thursday February 1st 2018 between 4pm and 6pm GTM (UK time). Register your free space.
Rob is Content Strategist at GatherContent. He is a journalism graduate and has previously worked as Studio Manager and Head of Content for a design agency and as an Audience Research Executive for the BBC. He’s a published author and regular contributor to industry publications including Net Magazine, Smashing Magazine, 24 Ways, WebTuts+, UX Matters , UX Booth and Content Marketing Institute. On occasion Rob speaks about content strategy at leading industry events.
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